Coun­cil­lor calls out Marys­town mayor for ‘grand­stand­ing’ over town hall in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY PAUL HERRIDGE

Re­cent ren­o­va­tions to the town hall and in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the build­ing re­sulted in an­other clash in the Marys­town coun­cil cham­bers last Tues­day.

Mayor Sam Sy­nard re­cently gave a tele­vi­sion news in­ter­view where he dis­cussed the town hall re­open­ing to the pub­lic in early April be­fore an in­spec­tion and with­out ac­ces­si­bil­ity fea­tures – such as a walk­way and a wheel­chair ramp – be­ing com­pleted.

Ap­par­ently, the build­ing’s el­e­va­tor was also bro­ken for a pe­riod of time.

The build­ing re­mained in­ac­ces­si­ble for peo­ple with mo­bil­ity is­sues for roughly five weeks, un­til the first week of May, Sy­nard said dur­ing the May 16 meet­ing.

“It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue. Pub­lic build­ings have to be ac­ces­si­ble,” he said.

Coun­cil­lors took is­sue dur­ing the meet­ing with the mayor go­ing to the me­dia with­out first con­sult­ing them.

Coun. Leonard Pittman pointed out there were mea­sures in place for any­one who needed help ac­cess­ing the build­ing, one be­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of con­struct­ing a tem­po­rary ramp by the con­trac­tor who was still at the site.

“It re­ally wasn’t as big an is­sue as you were try­ing to say it was,” Pittman said.

“Also, the el­e­va­tor broke down. That wasn’t part of the ren­o­va­tions. That was be­yond our con­trol. We couldn’t know that that el­e­va­tor was go­ing to break down. The day that you did your in­ter­view there was ac- tu­ally some­one here that af­ter­noon to re­pair the el­e­va­tor,” he added.

“To me, you were grand­stand­ing. It’s just as well to be hon­est.”

Coun. Lisa Slaney said the in­ten­tion was never for the build­ing to be open as long as it was with­out ac­ces­si­bil­ity, but bad weather in April pre­vented the con­trac­tor from do­ing the work. Slaney said the con­trac­tor and staff were “quite con­fi­dent” the build­ing was up to par.

“For a mat­ter of a few weeks, they were try­ing to save $10,000 a month (in rent for tem­po­rary of­fice space),” she said.

“(It) was no one’s in­tent at this ta­ble or on our staff to show dis­re­spect to any­one who needed ex­tra sup­ports in com­ing into the build­ing or at­tend­ing meet­ings,” Slaney said.

It was an­tic­i­pated the work would be done in two weeks, she said.

Sy­nard called the use of the build­ing “em­bar­rass­ing, shame­ful, ter­ri­ble.”

Coun. Dar­lene Lafosse apol­o­gized to res­i­dents on be­half of coun­cil for open­ing the build­ing be­fore it was ac­ces­si­ble. She asked the mayor, how­ever, if he knew the build­ing was not in com­pli­ance. Sy­nard re­sponded he didn’t.

“The mo­ment you knew you should have come to us in­stead of run­ning to the me­dia,” Lafosse said.

Coun. Mary Beth Far­rell also asked the mayor why coun­cil couldn’t sit down and dis­cuss the mat­ter.

Sy­nard claimed an email he sent to coun­cil­lors three days be­fore his tele­vi­sion in­ter­view went unan­swered.

“The point I’m mak­ing is no pub­lic build­ing in Marys­town should be open un­less it’s ac­ces­si­ble,” Sy­nard said. “That’s our rules. That’s our own rules.”

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